Smooth journey after Visa nightmare!

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Our bags and baggage!

I have done quite a lot of travelling for work in recent years but nothing quite compares to getting the family out to Toronto.

I don’t have the best reputation for things going smoothly when I travel so it was hardly surprising that given the extent of this trip, this was no exception.

The mini bus was due at 4.30am so I set the alarm at 3.45am and everyone got up pretty well. I’d got everything straight and ready the night before so it was just a case of getting dressed in the clothes which were laid out, washing, cleaning teeth and grabbing the bags. We had planned to get breakfast at the airport so just took a few nibbles for the journey to Manchester airport.

Matt (my brother) and mum (Barbara) had got up to wave us off and it was a lovely surprise that mum had arranged to come along in the mini bus with us so she could wave us off from the airport. I was a bit worried about that at first because I didn’t want her to be upset and have to travel back home on her own but little did I know she had another secret up her sleeve, to be revealed shortly.

Chris’ mum and dad (Tim and Sheila) were travelling with us to Toronto and they had been picked up first by the mini bus. Excitement and adrenalin kicked in and everyone was raring to go.

The M62 and M60 were clear as it was before the rush hour so we got to the airport in really good time –  3 hours before the flight was due to take off at 8.30am.

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Harry and mum came to say goodbye

Cue next surprise …. as we arrived at the airport Harry (my eldest) appeared through the crowds as he had arranged to come and see us off and for a last big hug. This also meant that mum would get a lift home with him and not be on her own. Phew!

I’d checked in online the day before. Claudia’s went through fine online but I was prompted to visit the check in desk to check in with an member of staff for myself, Charlie and Kitty.

We got to the check in desk and was shocked to find out that the reason for the check in not working online was because our Canadian Visas (ETAs) hadn’t gone through. I had applied weeks before but I must’ve entered mine and Charlie’s details wrong and hadn’t even applied for Kitty’s! The check in assistant said we didn’t stand a good chance of getting them cleared in time and it was really stressful. I am so grateful that Harry was there because he is a good voice of reason and helped me stay calm.

We had to reapply there and then and from start to finish the process took just short of two hours – a big relief when the acceptance emails dropped into my inbox!

It was difficult to say bye to mum and Harry but it was never going to be easy. Always looking on the bright side, if there hadn’t been an issue at check in, I wouldn’t have had as much time with them 😉 so in my eyes, it was a blessing in disguise!

Passport control and security was absolutely packed but because there wasn’t long before our flight, we got ushered through and made it to the gate as the flight had just started to board. I still managed to fly into Dixons electrical shop on the way to the gate to get Claudia an ipad for her homeschooling and Charlie a camera case – I think it was the fastest sale and transaction they’ve ever done!

I have to publicly apologise now to my mother and father in law as they are very punctual people and I’m not sure how they managed to stay calm….especially as we’d planned on getting to the airport in good time so we could have a leisurely breakfast and do some of shopping/browsing!

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Once aboard, the Air Transat flight was brilliant and passed really quickly. It was the first time in as long as I can remember that I actually had time to chill so I made the most of it.

The children watched films, read books and played on their ipads – what dreams are made of in their eyes so they were happy travellers!

When we arrived at Toronto Pearson airport, the luggage collection was easy and once cleared through customs – with the correct Visas (!) – Chris arrived to pick us up and it was fab to see him.

There’s a (-5) hour time difference to the UK so despite everyone being jaded after an early start, we were all keen to stay awake to get on top of the jet-lag as quickly as we could.

Lesson learnt: always check Visas have been approved before setting off on a world trip 😉

Useful links

Canada Visa (ETA) application site: www.canada-eta.ca/

Air Transat: www.airtransat.com

Keeping Calm App (for Chris’ mum and dad!) : www.calm.com

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